Greyhound racing ban: It’s about cruelty, not politics
NSW Premier Mike Baird has been slammed by many opponents of the greyhound racing ban who rather than hang their heads in shame, have attempted to turn the ban into a political fiasco. The Premier took the hard decision to ban an industry so steeped in cruelty that in a civilised society there was no other option. It’s not about popularity, it’s not about making money from selling the land, it’s not a war against the ‘battlers’ of society. The independent inquiry uncovered extensive evidence of horrific animal cruelty and that is something that is undeniable and evidence based, unlike the rhetoric we are hearing from the industry.
Humane Society International Director Verna Simpson said, “There’s no escaping it – the cruelty aspect was rampant. Up to 40% of pups are killed as they “don’t have the instinct”, up to 70% of greyhounds whelped are deliberately killed for being too slow, 20% of trainers engage in live baiting, illegal drug use to make the dogs run faster, the discovery of numerous mass graves, and industry cover-ups.”
This dirty business doesn’t just involve unacceptable levels of animal cruelty, it also involves organised crime, drug cartels and physical threats that were violently levelled at anyone who dared to speak out. When the enquiry was held many people had stories to tell but they were so intimidated they would not give evidence. Since the ban was announced, death threats have been divvied out left, right and centre.
Numerous articles have linked the actions of bikie gangs to greyhound racing – they have reportedly been involved in breeding and selling greyhounds, laundering money through the tracks, and race fixing. In 2009 the Daily Telegraph reported about a man dubbed the Dogfather who was a bikie associate and underworld security guard. These connections have been well documented and no Government should be supporting organised crime.
HSI’s Ms Simpson added, “Even before the ban was announced, greyhound racing was hailed a dying industry which was losing popularity across the state. Industry regulator Greyhound Racing NSW planned to close up to 19 of the 34 racing tracks.”
The industry experienced a 22% decline in licenced participants from 2008 to 2015, and attendance from 2010 to 2015 fell by 27.5% at TAB tracks, and by 22.7% at non-TAB tracks. So in terms of job losses, many were already on the cards and with no compensation package in sight.
Instead trainers are reportedly looking at receiving a hefty $1,500 per dog, and a notice period of 12 months. This seems like a great result, especially given most are hobbyists according to their submissions. Compare this to other industries and it is more than generous – recently 2,000 meatworkers were stood down after abattoirs were closed in Australia’s north as a result of the jobs being taken by foreign workers recruited from expanding live animal export markets. These workers would have received no compensation, and no 12 month warning.
Just prior to the ban announcement, the NSW Coalition government announced that a tax break worth more than $220.8 million would be awarded across all three racing codes by the year 2020, and ten per cent of it would be allocated to the greyhound racing industry. This would mean that the state government would have handed $22 million of taxpayers’ money to an industry fraught with animal cruelty by 2020.
The industry has been given endless opportunities to reform, but to no avail. In 2012 media reports exposed allegations of race-fixing, drug use, and alleged criminal activity within the industry despite reforms that had been aimed at cleaning up the industry. It was also revealed that even senior greyhound racing administrators in NSW were actively strategizing to downplay live baiting in the industry in the days before the Four Corners program went to air. Even now, Greyhound Racing South Australia are still insisting on top secrecy, refusing to report to the public on how many dogs are bred, raced, euthanased and killed each year. This fills us with no confidence that positive change could ever be an option for this corrupt industry.
Initial polling showed that more than 85% of NSW residents oppose greyhound racing, and support the ban. Despite strong voices getting their opinions heard in the media in recent weeks, most Australians would be appalled if the ban was overturned – it would be nothing short of an animal welfare disaster.